Consuelo Morales is both a mother and teacher at Crockett Elementary School, the first school to adopt the iEducateUSA program. She has seen the programÔÇÖs growth and impact since its start, when her 5th grade class served as the pilot for iEducateUSA.

Maelle Flichy recently sat down with Mrs. Morales & her son Emmanuel to discuss their experiences and get their feedback. Mrs. Morales expresses how beneficial the program has been and how much she has seen the students grow throughout the school year; students that were once lagging were able to show tremendous progress.

Maelle: Mrs. Morales, thank you for taking the time to sit down with us – tell us about your first semester with iEducateUSA.

Mrs. Morales: My 5th grade class was the pilot class with iEducateUSA and so I was able to see the change in the students from the beginning of the school year. When the first tutors got there, they started working with the students that had trouble in the class, forming small groups that helped the students improve tremendously. Part of the pilot was that we made an end of the year report that followed specific students to show their improvement.

Maelle: A large issue is the curriculum gap between elementary and middle school, as those students who are struggling in 5th grade end up falling much further behind after the jump to 6th grade. How did the iEDU tutors help tackle this problem?

Mrs. Morales: Yes, there is a big gap. I was also a 6th grade math teacher so I saw the significant difference in schoolwork; I knew the kind of curriculum and struggle that the students would face. So I told the tutors to help focus on certain parts of the curriculum and objectives that I knew they would have problems with in the 6th grade. The tutors would have specific activities I would give them, and were able to work well together with the students, helping the students prepare for the standardized tests and bridge the gap. By the end of the school year, they were ready for 6th grade.

Maelle: You are not only the first teacher to go through this program; youÔÇÖre also a parent to students in the program. As a parent what kind of benefits do you see from the program?

Mrs. Morales: My son was in the second year program ÔÇô not the pilot year, which was only a semester ÔÇô so the tutors were there all year long. The students had the small group instructions by the teacher and tutor and I think that is the key for the success in their education. They need to be able to cover the weaknesses. My son had some trouble in some objectives; he would go to the tutor to clarify, and then go back to the whole group classroom and he was fine.

Maelle: Often a teacher doesnÔÇÖt have the time to have a one-on-one lesson with a student, to make sure that all students are learning at the same pace. So many students have to get the help outside of class. What would be the benefit as a parent to having the help inside the classroom instead of after school?

Mrs. Morales: Of course the biggest advantage is not having to spend extra time outside my regular schedule to drive him after school. It was wonderful; he came home with all his homework done or it was easy for him to do the homework by himself without me having to help clarify anything.

Maelle: So before the program parents really had to dedicate a lot of their time, which isnÔÇÖt always easy with work schedules to accommodate after-school tutoring. Would you say that the in-class model benefits parents as importantly as it does students?

Mrs. Morales: Yes, because I do not have to sacrifice my family time when he has trouble with homework, because he receives all this help inside the classroom. And I see the difference now that he is in middle school without iEducateUSA, and I have to sit with him after dinner and check the homework because he doesnÔÇÖt have that kind of help over there.

Maelle: In general, would you say that elementary school is where a program like this should start?

Mrs. Morales: Yes, I think itÔÇÖs great to bridge all of the gaps, because this is where the big jumps happen in the curriculum. And teachers donÔÇÖt have the time to sit with each student. So to close the gap, itÔÇÖs necessary to be in a small group, especially for young students in elementary school.

Maelle: What do you think makes the iEducateUSA programÔÇÖs results so effective?

Mrs. Morales: In the classroom where you have a mix of students who struggle with all different types of subjects, the tutors can spend individual time with the students to help them master all the subjects especially the ones they struggle with. ItÔÇÖs the key – having extra hands helping with instruction.

Maelle: Well thank you very much for sitting down with me to give us your feedback on the program!

Mrs. Morales: No really I am so thankful for iEducateUSA, as a teacher and as a parent, to have that help in the classroom is so valuable. ItÔÇÖs a great program!

Maelle also sat down with ConsueloÔÇÖs son, Emmanuel Cabrera Morales, who is currently in the 6th grade. He was a student at Crockett Elementary, and was part of the iEDU program in 5th grade.

Maelle: What things did you need extra help on and you were glad that the tutors were there to help you? Did they ever do any fun activities to help you learn?

Emmanuel: Multiplication and division with fractions was really difficult for me. We did workshops and they would give us kits we could take home.

Maelle: What was the main thing that got you to really open up and get the help you needed from the tutors that you donÔÇÖt have now?

Emmanuel: I really liked that the tutors in the program were teenagers; theyÔÇÖre closer to my age. And they really helped me a lot to bring my grades up. They know technology and they are in my generation.

Maelle: What about the iEducateUSA program did you like the most?

Emmanuel: I liked the science part a lot. We got to do a lot of science experiments with the tutors and activities around science.

Maelle: So science is something youÔÇÖre interested in. Are you thinking about your future in science maybe one day as a career?

Emmanuel: I like robotics a lot. Having the tutors around kind of helped me decide what I wanted to do. In 1st grade through 4th grade I wanted to do marine biology. When the tutors came we did an activity with robotics and it made me change it to robotic engineering.

Maelle: Well thank you for talking with me about your experience. I think itÔÇÖs really great that you already know what you want to do in life!